The push-up is a classic exercise that’s great for strength training.  Doing push-ups builds muscle in your shoulders, back, arms, and chest. If performed so that you maintain a steady plane throughout the movement, push-ups also strengthen your core.  Although many people focus on how many push-ups they can perform, the real key to effective push-ups is not in the repetition. It’s in the form. When you maintain good form in repetition, push-ups can really challenge you and improve your upper body strength.   As you push up and down, follow these four tips for a push-up-perfect form.

Place your hands just outside shoulder width.

If you place your hands too close together or too close to your head, you’ll limit your range of motion. If, however, you put hands just beyond shoulder width, you’ll increase your range of motion and challenge your muscles more.

Look straight down.

Keep a straight line from your back to the top of your head. Raising your head will put unnecessary pressure on your neck.

Keep your elbows close to your body.

Keeping your elbows close to your sides takes the stress off of your shoulders. Letting your elbows extend like wings tires your shoulders without benefit.

Maintain a straight body.

Keep your belly up and your rear down as you push-up. If your tummy drags or you stick your derrière in the air, you could injure yourself. Even if you don’t hurt yourself, your poor form will make the exercise less effective.

If you keep these four moves in mind, your repetitions will have good form. When form becomes impossible to maintain, stop. The next time you do push-ups, you’ll be able to do at least a few more with perfect form. And that will be meaningful progress.  Also, there is hardware available that can help you in your quest to have the perfect push-up.  You can try the traditional Push-Up Stands, or the P90X PowerStands, designed by Tony Horton.